Recent television news reports in Houston and in Dallas both have released reports over the last few days about "Justin's Law," a proposal that would make owning "pit bulls" a third-degree felony in Texas.
Reacting to three dog attacks, two of them fatal, on children in the Tyler area, one in 2009 and two in late-2010, former District Judge Cynthia Stevens Kent has proposed legislation called “Justin’s Law.” Justin’s Law would ban or severely restrict the ownership of “pit bull”-type dogs, and make hundreds of thousands of “pit bull” owners in Texas felons under the Texas Penal Code.
The news stories have given rise to a rumor in cyberspace that the bill is being voted on tomorrow, or imminently, and this is false. Ms. Kent has not found a sponsor for the bill, therefore it has not been introduced and cannot move through the process.
One would think that Texas' huge budget deficit (as high as $25B) and controversies over immigration and redistricting would stop the state legislature from dealing with dog issues. However, a lack of money or time has never stopped lawmakers from filing bills before.
In the last legislative session, 2009, Texas lawmakers filed 7,951 bills (1,726 passed) and yet the perception is that nothing got done (source: Texas Tribune). As of today, there are 818 bills filed in the House and 367 filed in the Senate, and we are just getting started (source: Texas Legislature online general reports).